Issue of March 22, 2015

Baguio Day Anniversary Issue
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The Human Factor

Last week’s supposed expose by an aide of presidential aunt Margarita Cojuangco about the tampering of ballots have shown, if not confirmed, what the Commission on Elections has been saying when it first introduced a computerized system in the casting of votes: the highest form of technology is only a parcel of the methods employed to ensure that elections were credible. Human intervention, for instance, vote buying, tampering, and flying voters could not be addressed by modernization – only proper education and genuine concern for reform by an individual and the electorate in general could we attain 100 percent honest elections.

Even as the allegations have yet to be proven, the affidavit of one Worthy Acosta detailing how he and several individuals tried to discredit the elections by tampering with the ballots, could be an indication that elsewhere in the country, there may have been attempts to defraud the polls.

Another point raised in the affidavit which we believe has already reached Comelec, but needs to be addressed is the presence of “syndicates” who, in exchange for a hefty sum, offer to candidates to manipulate election results by decrypting the source code of PCOS machines. Although largely unreported, many politicians bite the bait believing that high-tech rigging is possible.

As having credible elections remain a challenge for the Comelec, reforms in the system should be its continuing rallying call, especially now that another elections is nearing. We appreciate the fact that part of these reforms is the cleansing of voter registration records.

Similarly, local government units should help in ensuring that warehouses where ballots are kept are secure.

The report of the City Election Officer about the situation of the Baguio warehouse in the 2013 elections also brought up issues about the condition of warehouses in areas that are far from the prying eyes of the public and authorities.

The City Treasurer has already said that the Baguio warehouse is secure while the others charged of committing an election offense have questioned the integrity of Acosta. Yet authorities cannot discount the fact that if ballots are not properly handled, elections and ultimately the Comelec will always be tainted.

With several months more before the 2016 elections, the Comelec and cause-oriented groups should begin campaigning that the right of suffrage should be given utmost importance as not all is given a chance to choose their leaders in a democratic process. We hate to admit that even this have to be told the Filipino electorate repeatedly, but if this is what it takes to instill how privileged we are as a people, so be it.

Meantime, we await the Commission’s Law Department to come up with a ruling that would hold liable those who should, clear those who are innocent, and bring about continuing improvement in the system.



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